Posted by: Craig Fugate, Administrator, FEMA
In my December blog, I expressed the Obama Administration’s support for amending the Stafford Act to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make a request directly to the President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration. Under current law, only States, through the Governor, can make such requests.
I’ve re-emphasized my support for amending the law by sending letters to Congressional Committee Chairmen to offer FEMA’s support for S. 2283. A change to the Stafford Act would enhance our ability to respond directly to tribal governments’ declaration requests regardless of State or county boundaries or jurisdictions. I’m giving my firm commitment to actively work with Indian Country and Members of Congress to support and facilitate the passage of this legislation.
Specifically, the letters I sent today are recommending that Congress take swift action to pass this legislation. If Congress passes and the President signs such legislation into law, my office will act promptly in the development of appropriate regulations and policies for implementation.
Through the years, I’m proud of the close working relationships we developed at FEMA with recognized tribal governments across the country, especially as it relates to disaster response, recovery and mitigation activities. Based on these experiences, I’ve seen great success and some challenges. I believe that amending the Stafford Act to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make a request directly to the President for a federal emergency or disaster declaration, will only improve our coordination efforts and build stronger more resilient communities.
The U.S. Government has a unique government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments based on the U.S. Constitution, statutes, regulations, treaties, executive orders, executive memoranda and policies. Amending the law would acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes, enhance FEMA’s working relationship with tribal governments, and improve emergency and disaster responsiveness throughout Indian Country.
I’m looking forward to the day when the changes I have communicated here are made law and we are better situated to improve our coordination efforts with tribal governments and Indian Country. Visit fema.gov/government/tribal for additional information.
We will continue to follow the progress of this legislation closely and I’ll keep you posted on developments.